Patriots

Patriots

How much do the Patriots worry about who’s already on the team when deciding who to bring aboard?

Present company is, to a large degree, excluded, said Pats personnel man Nick Caserio on Wednesday. If the Patriots are on the clock and the best player on the board staring back at them seems redundant, they will strongly consider taking that player anyway.

“You’re evaluating players independently of one another,” he explained. “You know what you have on your team so maybe it comes down to, ‘OK, this is what we have on the team but there’s this player over here.’ If it’s two positions, maybe there’s a position where you have less numbers or less bodies and you’re erring on the side of caution in that respect.”

But using the depth chart as a tiebreaker between two evenly-matched players is one thing. In the end, talent usually wins out.

“You look at them independently; you evaluate the player irrespective of what you have on your team,” Caserio explained. “It’s like we talked about a few years ago (in 2011) with Nate (Solder). We had Sebastian (Vollmer). We had Matt Light. So we had two good tackles, starting level tackles that play at a high level. So then you add Nate Solder (with a first-round pick). So here’s a third tackle that you’re bringing in that you feel has good ability. Is he better than Light or Vollmer? Maybe, maybe not. But we know at some point, this guy’s gonna be a good football player.

As it turned out, Solder played 880 snaps in 2011 subbing for both Light and Vollmer and working as a third tight end. They took Solder at 17 that season with a pick they’d grabbed from Oakland the previous summer in exchange for Richard Seymour.

I asked the question about depth chart impacting the draft because of the Patriots situation at receiver. In 2013, the team took Aaron Dobson in the second round and Josh Boyce in the fourth. Boyce doesn’t seem to be working out, though he’s still on the roster. But Dobson still hasn’t fully proven himself as a guy that needs replacing. He played well at the tail end of 2013 before a leg injury got him. In 2014, his season was again waylaid by injury. But he’s 6-3 and 209 pounds and, save for a few receivers in this draft is probably going to be better than all of them in 2015 thanks to it being Dobson’s third season in the league and some draftees’ rookie year.

Is it time to seek his replacement? Caserio didn’t indicate that a replacement would be sought. But he did say Dobson’s potential (or lack thereof) isn’t going to impact them either.

“You look at the player, you evaluate the player, you look at your team and ultimately you’re gonna say, ‘Look, this is the best player for our team,’ and you go ahead and pick him regardless of position,” he concluded.